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Read A Book

Natural Order by Canadian author Brian Francis is a book worth reading!

It’s not that queer for a film -focused blog to ask that you pry your eyes away from the movie screen once in awhile and enjoy a good book.  We know you can read, you’re doing it right now aren’t you?  Reelout’s Festival Director Matt Salton has been asked to participate in this year’s Kingston Reads: Battle of the Books as part of Kingston Writers Fest 2012:

“Local luminaries vie for votes for this year’s Ontario Library Association’s prestigious Evergreen Award book nominees. .Join the ringside fun in this no-word-play-barred, spine-tingling battle in which defenders joust to win over the audience to their chosen book. Audience members get first crack at casting their ballots; the contest continues throughout the month at all KFPL branches, local bookstores and online at Sponsored by the Kingston Frontenac Public Library and moderated once again by the unflappable Eric Friesen.”

Here’s what Matt had to say about Natural Order:

My ideal summer beach reading includes stories of tawdry sex, exotic locales, and a spoiled diva of Machiavellian proportions sleeping her way to the top on her own terms. Example

Hey Brian Francis, would it have killed you to throw at least one of these elements in NATURAL ORDER?

Instead, Francis invites us into the unsexy, homophobic world of 90s-something narrator Joyce Sparks in exotic…rural Ontario.  Sigh. Before I searched for the Coles Notes version, I reminded myself that Francis was the author of the brilliant FRUIT and so I put my faith in an author of incredible talent and began to listen to the story of Joyce Sparks in her own words.

We learn of Joyce’s first crush as a young teenager on her flamboyant co-worker Freddy and his passion for going to the movies and longing to escape the doldrums of small town life. He calls Joyce his “Cinema Princess” (coincidentally also my nickname), loves his mother, and teaches dance but Joyce remains completely dumbfounded the day Freddy leaves town and Joyce’s heart broken.  Not everyone in Joyce’s town is as naïve, Joyce’s killjoy sister Helen and trusty gal pal Fern can see the florist through the trees but it is here that Joyce adopts her first in a series of emotional paralyses when it comes to dealing with sexuality, particularly the same-sex variety.  Which causes many a problem later in life when Joyce’s son John begins to display the same feminine characteristics.

It would be a shame to reveal anymore of the plot because, if you’re like me, you may dismiss the story’s simplicity as dull reading. NATURAL ORDER is far from dull and in fact its simplicity is deceptive and reminiscent of Robertson Davies’ FIFTH BUSINESS for it is the marginal figures in Joyce’s life that now come to the forefront of her memory during her ailing years. You could read this as a deathbed confessional, a story of remembrance and regret; a non-linear catharsis that keeps you clinging to every last word with the hope of redemption.  Natural Order will take many of you out of your comfort zone to indentify with an arguably unlikeable woman but as a Battle of the Books contender and as written by Francis, Joyce Sparks will deliver an honest, roundhouse punch that will knock you right out of the ring.

Get a head start and read Natural Order this summer.  You can reserve it at your local branch of the Kingston Public Library here or buy a copy at your independent local bookseller like Novel Idea!


About Reelout

We host an 11-day queer film and video festival in Kingston, Canada in January/February each year!

One response to “Read A Book

  1. Nancy Jones ⋅

    As part of the library’s Battle of the Books program, online discussion about this book starts on Monday August 20 at

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